Director: David Leitch
15 | 1h 59min | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 15 May 2018 (UK)
How to review a film like Deadpool 2, a superhero film (or "expansive two-movie universe" as the titular mercenary calls it now) that foregrounds its throwaway, tastelessly ultra-violent and demented nature as part of its appeal? Given his love of irony, I am sure that Deadpool himself - the unkillable, gag-spewing mercenary from the (Fox-owned) Marvel comic superhero universe who breaks the fourth wall as often as he breaks wind in people's faces- would appreciate the strange fact that despite being marketed as a refreshing commentary on the staleness of the now-dominant superhero movie genre, Deadpool 2 arrives in cinemas at a time when these movies seem to have avoided sinking into the bog. Or at least, the movies pumped out by Disney/Marvel seem to have kept a certain standard of quality: witness the positive reactions to, and box office haul of, Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Black Panther. Thus, Deadpool 2 and is predecessor sit in a groove where they can maybe be best appreciated as a funnier alternative to the more 'serious' films; Deadpool is not needed to save the genre.
If judging how funny it is is the best way to rate Deadpool 2, then director David Leitch (who helmed Atomic Blonde, which no doubt explains the confident, muscular and inventive action sequences here) and writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernic, and star Ryan Reynolds (who's commitment to get this character on screen spans over a decade) can take a bow. Despite being overlong, and suffering through some airless moments where the laughs don't come so fast, and allowing for the fact that this sequel is the dictionary definition of 'have cake and eat it', Deadpool 2 is mostly a loopily-enjoyable ride into mayhem. A huge amount of this franchise rests on the manic energy of Reynolds and his machine-gun delivery of gags, profanities and to-screen commentary on the state of supeherodom, with a substantial number of digs aimed at the gloomy tone of the DC superhero universe and the fact that Deadpool's new antagonist is played by a (crazily ripped) Josh Brolin, currently on screen as another hulking villain in competitor studio Disney's Avengers: Infinity War. If you found the pitch of Reynolds's performance, and the entire angle of the previous Deadpool movie totally unbearable, you won't be converted here.
One thing the filmmaker's get is that Deadpool as a film can't just survive on its main character's up-to-date meta commentary, a deliberately campy and syrupy soundtrack (Deadpool is an unabashed Celine Dion and Cher fan) and some inventive action sequences which exploit the fact that Deadpool, like Wolverine, is unkillable and thus can be bent and blown out of shape like a rag doll. As fun as all that can be, Deadpool 2 really gets into a higher gear when Deadpool rubs up against contrasting characters who are fun and interesting in their own right. As with the lone ranger type Wolverine, I prefer such a distinctive superhero character to bounce off other players and create sparks instead of carrying an entire film on their own, which might result in too much boredom or annoyance. Here Reynolds is paired off well with the gruff, beefy, blockheaded figure of Cable (Brolin, under appreciated as an actor with comic timing), a cyborg from the future determined to kill an unstable and bullied mutant teen called Russell (a hugely funny but also genuinely poignant turn from Hunt for the Wilderpeople's Julian Dennison) who Deadpool feels an affection for. Cable's blunt, grim approach and minimal care for conversation leads Deadpool to quip "are you sure you're not from the DC Universe?" Also bringing some buzz to the screen is Zazie Beetz as Domino, a new recruit to Deadpool's totally inept 'X-Force' team (he wants his own 'X' based team, copyright be damned) who's superpower is she is always lucky, which the filmmaker's exploit to create some of the most inventive and amusing action sequences.
Deadpool 2 throws a lot at the screen, so much so it feels inevitable that enough of it would stick, given the proof of concept established from the first film. But although I wouldn't say it surpasses the original in any notable way, what the Deadpool team can take credit for is creating possibly the funniest and, at the same time, the most logical mid-credit sequence of any superhero movie, where Deadpool not only uses Cable's time travel device in a way that totally makes sense (thus the film actually engages with the obvious plot hole in many time travel films, why don't characters use the tech to just fix everything) whilst also allowing Reynolds to warmly embrace all his previous career car crashes. There is also a 'blink and you'll miss it' cameo from a A-List actor which, literally, you could miss if you blink.